FOREST Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) is continuing work to prepare Gippsland for the upcoming bushfire season, building on fuel management works conducted throughout the year to reduce bushfire risk for communities and the environment.

FFMVic has recruited additional seasonal firefighters, with more than 250 fixed-term and permanent firefighters to be in place across the region from mid-November.

Gippsland’s acting deputy chief fire officer, Kelly Rash, said: “Teams of emergency specialists will be on standby for Incident Control Centres across the region from as early as November, ensuring FFMVic and partner agencies are ready to respond to emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Testing and servicing of our fleet of specialised firefighting vehicles is also underway, and we will have 10 aircraft based at the Latrobe Valley, Benambra, Heyfield and Bairnsdale in summer.

“In the coming weeks, fire lookout observers will be stationed in Gippsland’s 18 fire towers,” Ms Rash said.

“This preparation builds on FFMVic’s fuel management works throughout the year, including planned burning, slashing and mulching to reduce the speed and intensity of potential bushfires in Gippsland.

“Since mid-last year, planned burning by FFMVic in Gippsland has covered 2377 hectares, with crews taking every opportunity to conduct burns when conditions allow and it is safe to do so.

“This has included planned burning to reduce bushfire risk around townships, with the highest-priority burns conducted near Nowa Nowa, Buchan, Briagolong, Coongulla, Hill End and Noojee.

“In the same period, mechanical works covered more than 1900 hectares, with crews using heavy machinery to mulch flammable vegetation to reduce fuel near Loch Sport, Port Albert and Lakes Entrance townships.

“We are well-resourced and well-prepared for bushfire season and are continuing to build on our year-round program of works to reduce bushfire risk for communities and the environment.

“Fire preparedness is a shared responsibility – and that’s why we’re also working with the CFA and communities to help residents understand the actions they can take to reduce their own bushfire risk.”

All FFMVic crews are adhering to appropriate public health and hygiene guidelines to ensure operations can safely continue across the state.